Guitarist, singer, and songwriter James ‘Buddy’ Rogers should be a familiar name to long-time Blues Blast subscribers. In 2013, his My Guitar Is My Only Friend album was nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award in the Best New Artist Debut Recording category. The Canadian’s latest release offers another batch of original songs that focus on intricacies of love and the corresponding emotions.
The rhythm section, consisted of Slammin’ Mike Wedge on bass and James ‘Hollywood Jimmy’ Badger on drums, is solid throughout the disc. The veteran Lewis Stephens mans the piano, organ, and Wurlitzer keyboard. He has backed Freddie King, Delbert McClinton, and more recently, Mike Zito. All percussion on the recording are courtesy of Winfred Ballard.
Half of the tracks display Rogers’ varied approach to blues music. “Hell To Pay” is full of grinding guitar chords while “Come Back To Me” is a spirited shuffle with Rogers fully expressing his feelings for a member of the opposite sex. The guitarist fires off some Chuck Berry inspired licks on “Can’t Get You Off My Mind,” his solo ringing out with authority. When Rogers does the oft-covered Don Nix classic “Goin’ Down,” his guitar echoes the pain evident in his urgent vocal. The band establishes a late-night groove on the instrumental “Am-Ola-Dora” before Stephens gives the organ a workout, leading to the leader’s razor-sharp guitar solo.
On the rest of disc, Rogers offers a mixture of folkish, sensitive love ballads. “You Belong” and “By My Side” could easily be tracks from one of Eric Clapton’s solo projects. Rogers lays down a poignant vocal on “You & I,” that overcomes the shopworn lyrical content. The best of these tracks is “Baby,” notable for seductive guitar work and a contemplative vocal. “Change” has Rogers on acoustic guitar, the lyrics failing to rise above the ordinary.
There are three real bonus tracks that do not appear on the disc’s track list. “Listening” is an odd, thirty second stretch of silence that takes listeners to a graceful version of “You Belong,” with Rogers alone on acoustic guitar. The third bonus cut is an acoustic rendition of “Can’t Get You Off My Mind”. Rogers uses the acoustic guitar to create a forceful rhythm in support of his urgent overture for a woman’s attention. These tracks help round out the diverse facets of the guitarist and his music, elevating this release above run-of-the-mill status. It is a solid effort from a blues singer unafraid of revealing the sensitive side of his nature.